Home » News » Willa Chen scores perfect on her ACT, SAT and PSAT

Willa Chen, a 17-year-old Canton High School senior in suburban Detroit got perfect scores on the ACT, SAT and PSAT. Willa Chen, a 17-year-old Canton High School senior in suburban Detroit, did what many believe is nearly impossible, she got perfect scores on the ACT, SAT and PSAT.

The College Board reports approximately one student in 5,000 taking the SAT gets a perfect score of 2,400, while the odds are a little better, one in 1,000, on the PSAT, The Detroit News reported. The other major college entrance test, the ACT, which comes from a contending organization, states the odds of a perfect finish are one in 14,000.

In an apparent understatement, ACT Inc. spokesman Nancy Owens yesterday called it “quite an accomplishment.”

Chen hopes to go to Princeton University. The suburban Detroit student participates in the Math Olympiad and loves jazz, tap and ballet dancing. She takes her scores in stride, saying that she does not believe she studied a lot.

“I’ve never met anybody that talented who is also so gracious and so humble,” said geometry and advanced placement calculus teacher Karen Ludema. Ludema is also one of Chen’s favorite teachers — a teacher who “makes calculus fun.”

18 Responses to “Willa Chen scores perfect on her ACT, SAT and PSAT”

  1. Well, she’s a dancer. That explains it!

  2. it used to be more difficult when you had to get all the questions correct to get a perfect score. I heard that you can now miss a few questions and still get a perfect score now.

  3. She wants to go to the wrong school…she should join us at Harvard.

  4. I think she is smarter than most of you. I think the tests are so much harder than back then. AP calculus in high school? OMG!

  5. This doesn’t really mean anything. I really don’t want to generalize here, but most Asian kids I know are all about studying. To her, “not studying much” probably means only about 10 practice tests for each before taking them. These tests always have the same types of questions (they have to, or there’d be no way to compare students who take them at different times), so all you have to do is learn what kind of answers they want, and as long as you don’t have some kind of mental handicap, you can get a perfect score. I took all 3 without studying, and I got a 2350 on the SAT, 35 on the ACT, and I don’t even remember what I got on the PSAT because it really doesn’t matter (it was high enough to get a National Merit Scholarship though, which is the only real reason to even take the PSAT). The point here is that if I had taken a few hours to do some practice tests, I could have gotten perfect scores. This is not a big deal, and it isn’t really newsworthy.

  6. Richard May 1, 2009

    Haha, you prove some very good points, however, I’m afraid they’re not those you were trying to make.

    1. You contend that “this doesn’t really mean anything…this is not a big deal, and it isn’t really newsworthy.” If you believe this to be the case, then why devote nearly as many words to reporting your own scores, which judging by your own standards, mean even less and are less worthy – of reporting, that is.

    2. You state you “really don’t want to generalize, but….” But what? Are you expecting us to believe that you couldn’t even make it to the end of your sentence before doing exactly what it is you claim not to want to do? Notwithstanding your statement to the contrary, I believe you really DID want to generalize. I don’t ascribe sinister motives to your decision, however, as generalizations are merely an annoying by-product of intellectual laziness, and your purported dislike of the practice was a superbly sublime way to bolster your word-count while feigning intellectual honesty and the rigors of sharp, clear-minded analysis. (I think some of your techniques are rubbing off on me already.)

    3. I am grateful that you did generalize, however. Otherwise, how else would you have ever detected the “Asian Connection,” much less been able to surmise Ms. Chen’s study regimen with such precision.

    4. The true fruit of all this cerebration, the Holy Grail of standardized test taking, if you will, was so eloquently formulated, so distilled to its fundamental essence, that its simplicity would have made Ockham want to slit his own throat. (For want of a razor the humor was lost.)

    To recap:

    A. “These tests always have the same types of questions.”

    (Please note that the preceding capital letter “A” denotes the first in a series, and is NOT an abbreviation for the word “answer.” That’s getting a little bit ahead of yourself, but I do like the way you think.)

    Think Jeopardy!

    To identify these particular “types” of question you should look for such clues as inverted word order or the presence of a question mark. For those more grammatically-challenged test-takers, a more intuitive approach may also be used. This approach requires you to read a sentence, out-loud if necessary, and search your being for an uneasy feeling that something is missing. Now this may seem counterintuitive, but bear with me, please. That missing “something” is called an ANSWER; which brings us to the next step,

    B. “All you have to do is learn what kind of answers they want.”

    Now to make sure this wasn’t a trick question (answer?) ((can an answer be followed by a question mark (?) (that one is for display purposes))? ((and of course that one indicates (or marks) that my question was actually a question)), I did a little investigative research of my own in order to “learn what kind of answers they want.

    The results of my investigation led to the, dare I say startling, discovery that most of these testing companies are looking for what are called “correct answers,” although in a small percentage of the questions asked, they are looking for the “kind” of answer called “the most correct answer.”

    That’s it. That’s the magic formula. Identify the question and give them the kind of answers they want (remember, the “correct” kind for those of you suffering short-term memory loss), and that is all that is required to get a perfect score, albeit with the caveat that one not suffer some kind of mental handicap.

    Now I assume that what you may have really meant to say, rather than someone suffering from a mental handicap, was a person of average intelligence. The reason I believe this is because by your own logic you should have achieved a perfect score, and while your writing does not give me the impression you suffer from a mental handicap, it does give the impression that you are possessed of extremely average intelligence.

    Now you should in no way be ashamed of being average. In fact, I did some research on IQ and discovered some very fascinating facts about leading scholars in the field of intelligence. It was reported that four out of five researchers (which is like 95%) who also possess a basic level of statistics believe that a not insignificant percentage of people are actually of below average intelligence. Some even believe that the number of people with below average intelligence could reach as high as 50%. As shocking as that may sound, that means that like one out of three people are of below average intelligence.

    Now if you are like me and you look to the person to your left, and then to the person on your right, you realize rather quickly how lonely we really are because there is no one there and yet we keep hearing voices telling us to do things. Bad things. Things like “Do the dishes” or “Take out the garbage.” (Not that it’s related, but does anyone know where the on-off switch for a baby monitor is?)

    Personally, I have no idea what I scored on these tests, but I sure could have used your insightful understanding of how things work. I do remember my particular experiences with the Graduate Record Exam, however, and am happy to share should it prove helpful to others.

    Now I will state that I am like you Haha, in that I have never studied for standardized tests because for me it seems about as productive as studying for a urine test. My situation was such that the evening before I was scheduled to take the GRE I ran into an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in many years and as a consequence I ended staying up nearly the whole night, getting only about two hours of very restless, and very inebriated sleep. Since I had payed for the exam I decided to eat the remaining pizza for breakfast with my morning coffee and to go sit for a very painful day of hung-over test taking, knowledgeable in the fact that I could always retake the exam should I not be satisfied with the results.

    Well, long story short: I scored a 750. Now I suppose I must have known on a subconscious level what you so succinctly put forth in your analysis. At that point I knew the secret to getting a perfect score. Fortunately for me, however, I acted rather uncharacteristically mature when I decided not to retake the test.

    I realized that my health was more important than achieving a perfect score on my GRE. After all, I realized that abusing my body was too high a price to pay, in that to improve I would most certainly have to cut my sleep down to zero as well as drink life-threatening amounts of alcohol to improve my score. While initially I thought the ordeal would be worth it, I soon realized that if I performed at an even higher level upon retaking the test, any potential future employer would come to expect that staggeringly high (and I do mean staggering and high) level of performance on a daily basis. This sort of lifestyle must certainly be detrimental to one’s health over time. So I took the higher path (which ironically was NOT the “higher” path).

    Lastly, I think you might have discovered something quite ingenious in the test publishing firms’ writing and administration of these tests. That element is obviously the amount of study or preparation one undertakes before the exam.

    As you so authoritatively state, it’s clearly no big deal to ace these exams. In your case you estimate that with a few hours of taking practice tests you would have gotten perfect scores. I have absolutely no reason to doubt your estimate as you have been so spot on regarding everything else in your post. This is where the test publishers’ evil genius comes to light. The real intelligence being measured is whether a student, such as yourself, who undoubtedly has all the answers, is really so ridiculously STUPID as to not spend a few hours time investment to reap the rewards that achieving a perfect score would have surely returned.

    To top it all off, after first behaving so stupidly as to not get a perfect score when it was clearly so within your reach, the level of stupidity makes a quantum leap when sheer LAZINESS is used to defend your sub-par performance.

    One interesting element in the story is when one of Ms. Chen’s teachers says that “I’ve never met anybody that talented who is also so gracious and so humble.” Graciousness and humility. How about it? Perhaps you could take some of that time you saved by not preparing and use it to work on your personality. I rather doubt this will happen, however, because I get the impression that you only jump into action in order to belittle other’s extraordinary achievements in a vain attempt to draw attention from yourself and your own lack of achievement DUE TO LAZINESS.

    One last thing, you may want to consider changing your name. Right now, whether you know it or not, the joke’s on you, Haha.

  7. Arbiter May 5, 2009

    You are absolutely correct about humility and grace. It is said that lazy and intelligent people are lazy because they always look for the most efficient method of completing tasks. I think what we have here is such a case. However, in their plight, they often set aside important factors that make the task inefficient in the long run. This is parallel to the law of conservation of energy in thermodynamics. People need to apply intelect to philosophy. This is why literature and the arts have been able to challange sciences so often in history. In reality, the concepts correlate. Furthermore, laziness=deterioration. Potential deteriorates over time if left unused! You are only hurting yourself Hahahahahaha! But even you could figure that out right Haha?

  8. My laziness is just a mechanism to rid myself of blame. If I go to class every day and study as hard as I can, and I still don’t do as well as someone else in my class, I have no excuse other than the fact that I’m less intelligent. If I go to class once a month, don’t do homework assignments, and don’t study for tests, then I can use my laziness as an excuse for any possible poor performance. I can still tell myself that I’m more intelligent than anyone who may have outperformed me, and the only reason they did so was because they worked harder. I sometimes take a utilitarian view and try to convince myself that this is stupid, that it doesn’t matter how hard anyone worked; all that matters is the final outcome. The hard part is that even with all of my laziness, I’m still near the top of my class. Until my marks become bad enough to justify doing more work, I’m afraid it will be difficult to find any motivation.

    Basically, I’ve found a way to (apparently) beat the system, even though I’m really just hurting myself and solidifying my bad habits.

    If your intent, Richard, was to embarrass me, you have succeeded; however, you haven’t told me anything I didn’t already know about myself.

    I’ll be taking the GRE next year; maybe I’ll try your preparation method. If this article is still here, I’ll let you know if it works for me.

  9. random cheesecake September 6, 2009

    Wow. You three above… interesting.

    For your information, I actually DID study for my PSAT, and guess what? I FAILED. An 1800, however -nice-, does not qualify me for finalist nor semifinalist.

    Yet, driven to the wall here I am, taking the SAT and ACT for the first time this upcoming month. Worse yet, I promised family and friends that I will obtain perfect scores.

    Ah well. Time to get moving and break some bones. ^^

  10. Perfect scores? That’s awesome! Perfects are rather hard to get due to few mistakes people make every time they take it. (no one can stay so concentrated for so long, well except a few people) She’s probably ugly though. ^_^

  11. to fakegod:
    how can you say she is ugly? that is a really horrible assumption… moreover, beauty comes from the inside; it is not just the outer physical appearance – if you can’t say something good about her, don’t say anything at all!!! furthermore, you don’t even KNOW her!

  12. Wow, this is quite an achievement. Perfection on all three tests must have taken so much effort and dedication. Nothing can surpass perspiration.
    “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Thomas Edison

  13. Yes, she makes a wrong choice. Join Havard

  14. Jesus Christ, Richard owned like no one’s ever owned before.

  15. Willa should contact Will Meyer, a senior at Carmel High School, Carmel, CA. He, too, made perfect scores on the PSAT, SAT, and ACT (and has made 5s on all five AP tests he has taken to date). He will attend Stanford in the fall. I taught him geometry in the 8th grade (he won the county-wide Mathletics contest, competing against all the high school students), and my wife taught him English (he won the Steinbeck writing contest). What an amazing student! Congratulations, Willa!

  16. btw to those who said that the SAT was harder back then, Willa Chen aced the 1600 ACT when she was in 7th grade.

  17. Holy Crap October 2, 2010

    So, I know this is a very old thread, but I have to say that Richard above absolutely destroyed. Obliterated.

  18. Steve Wallisberg November 16, 2010

    I got perfect scores on all my tests…then won 8 gold medals in the Olympics….climbed Mt. Everest….then discovered the missing link….all before I was 14…..Now I work at Chucky Cheese as a clown….and am much happier than had I gone to Stanford or Harvard or Yale, and continued on my path to nowhere…..Next year I plan to be the head clown for the entire chain of Chucky Cheese restaurants……and one day, I will rule the cheese with my will of steel and my savoir faire…..Go gladiators……..Rock On….